CyberPower Gamer Xtreme 2000 Delivers on Value
At a Glance
One doesn't always associate the word "value" with "gaming." But CyberPower has delivered a phenomenal, high-performance desktop catering to smaller budgets. At $1100 (as of February 1, 2010), the Gamer Xtreme 2000-i5 sits on the high end of the value spectrum. But no competing PC is able to offer as balanced a mix of high-performance computing as this one. If you want stronger gaming performance out of a value PC, you'll have to sacrifice some general performance--and pay more.
The Gamer Xtreme is one of the first value PCs in PC World's database that makes use of Intel's new 2.66GHz Core i5 750 CPU. The results are of this choice are fairly significant. We've tested a number of different systems across a wide range of processor models but similar speed. Yet, only a system running a 3.06GHz Core i7 950 CPU is able to top the Gamer Xtreme's general performance--and barely. It's not as if the rest of the Gamer Xtreme's build is that jaw-dropping: 4GB of DD3-1600 memory represents an average amount for a value PC. The system's 1TB of hard-disk space is notable, but hardly unprecedented.
As mentioned, the Gamer Xtreme beats out every other value PC for general performance save one--Micro Express' MicroFlex 95B desktop ($1500 as of 8/23/2009). The $400 price difference translates into only a 4 percent performance difference in our WorldBench 6 suite of tests.
In gaming, the system dishes out frame rates in our tests of 77 fps in Enemy Territory: Quake Wars and 94 fps in Unreal Tournament 3 (both at high-quality, 2560-by-2100 resolution). CyberPower's own Gamer Xtreme XT-K desktop ($1500 as of 4/16/2009) beat those results by anywhere from 16 to 20 percent, and Maingear's Dash ($1400 as 1/7/2009) is only able to overtake the Gamer Xtreme in Enemy Territory: Quake Wars by around 6.5 percent.
The Thermaltake Element T chassis that houses the Gamer Xtreme is a pleasant, albeit bare-bones design that features red accents for the front-panel buttons, connectors, and case fans. The grilled front makes for better-than-average airflow even though its love-it-or-leave-it aesthetic isn't as visually stimulating as a solid, black look.
On the plus side, the case does offer plenty of room on the inside to play around with. Clutter-free cabling gives you easy access to the two free 5.25-inch or five free 3.5-inch bays, which require the simple twist of a locking mechanism to secure devices in place. Installing new PCI devices into one of the two free PCI slots, PCI x16 slots, or single PCI slot still requires a screwdriver.
A wide array of external connections awaits your many devices on the system's rear. Seven USB ports, one FireWire 400 port, one e-SATA port, two gigabit ethernet ports, coaxial and optical S/PDIF ports, and connections for integrated 7.1 surround sound create a powerful buffet of options for you to pick from, though curiously the relatively new Thermaltake chassis supports only two USB ports on the system's front. An additional USB port can be found on an included multiformat card reader, but for the most part, the imbalance between the Gamer Xtreme's two halves is slightly frustrating for the device-laden enthusiast.
The mouse included with our test system bills itself as a gaming input device. Its gray and black exterior certainly gives the illusion that some kind of underlying difference exists between this and a generic input device you'd find at the store. There isn't. The 800-dpi mouse doesn't feature any buttons for toggling additional modes or other standard "gaming mouse" features. And its three-button design is quite normal and, well, uninspiring. The included keyboard at least includes some additional buttons for application-launching and volume controls. It's not as pretty as a standard gaming keyboard, but it gets the job done.
It might not be the fastest value PC on paper, but CyberPower's Gamer Xtreme is close enough to the top to make its lower price a key factor--nay, key advantage--against competing systems. The only dry part of the system is its case. Although the Thermaltake chassis offers much for potential upgraders, its aesthetic design is only so-so, and it has weak offerings for external connections. Still, that's not enough of a drawback to hurt the overall dominance of this tricked-out value PC.